Most of my pastor friends have the difficult task of exegeting Scripture, crafting a sermon, and then giving the congregation ways to apply what they’ve learned to their lives—week in and week out.
One way to build actionable takeaways is to show your congregation where the imperative verbs are in a given New Testament passage. Sometimes these are obvious (e.g., “encourage one another and build each other up”), but other times, not so much.
Years ago, I found a very simple hack that helped me immediately home in on certain actionable sections of a given passage using Logos Bible Software.
If you don’t use Logos yet, I can say it’s been a game-changer for me when it comes to producing Bible literacy content. I’ve written at length about how invaluable it has been in building OverviewBible. (And yes, Logos is pricey, but I can hook you up with a discount.)
Imperative verbs help you make sermons applicable
There may be a few people in your congregation who love digging into morphology, but most folks in your church are probably not Greek grammar nerds. That means one of the ways you can help your listeners hear the words of the New Testament the way the original audience did is by pointing out where the command verbs (verbs in the imperative mood) lie in the text.
Perhaps the classic example of this is in the Gospel of Matthew, when the author records Jesus’ final commission to his disciples. An English-speaking reader is likely to read the words of Matthew 28:19-29 and understand the main command to be “Go.”
(I spent a good 12+ years in a Southern Baptist Sunday School, and this was usually the main thrust of the passage whenever it came up.)
However, if you’ve received any training in Greek, you likely know that the actual command verb in this passage is to “make disciples.” (And even if you didn’t remember that Logos’ Exegetical Guide makes that pretty easy to rediscover.)
This can be a helpful insight to bring up when you’re discussing this verse in a modern sermon: the main takeaway of this passage isn’t necessarily to up and move to another part of the world—rather, it’s to make disciples of Christ wherever you go.
Again, you probably already know about the Great Commission imperative.
But what if, while you were doing your sermon prep, you could have these imperative verbs highlighted automatically?
How to automatically highlight NT imperative verbs
Turns out, you can do this easily in Logos Bible Software—and you can apply it to the entire New Testament!
Step 1: Create a new visual filter in Logos Bible Software
Go to the top of your Logos instance and click “Docs,” then click “New” and select “Visual Filter.”
When the new filter opens, you’ll want to name it something intuitive, like “NT imperative verbs.” You’ll also need to specify the morphology dataset you want to use. (I just used the ones the Logos crew developed.)
I apply this to “All Bibles,” but you can narrow the application if you want.
Step 2: Specify the part of speech and verb mood
In the left-hand field, type “@” and you will see a drop-down menu of the parts of speech. Select “Verb,” and Logos will show all the morphological variants that a verb might have.
You can tell Logos to highlight any combination of these, but for this post, we’re just going to choose “Imperative” under the “Mood” options.
Step 3: Pick a highlighting option
This is the easy part. In the right-hand field, choose any type of treatment to apply to the text. This is how imperative verbs will appear when you read the Bible in Logos.
I chose the orange highlighter: it gets my attention.
Congrats! You’ve just created your visual filter. Now all we need to do is tell Logos to show this when you’re reading the Bible.
Step 4: Turn on your new visual filter
Move back over to your Bible reader panel in Logos Bible Software, and select the icon with the three circles beside the search bar. This will give you a list of visual features to apply to the Bible text.
Scroll down to “Visual filters” and make sure that option is checked. When it is, you should see the filter you just created as an option—check that box, too.
Just like that, you have Logos working in the background to highlight every single command verb you come across in the New Testament, including the Great Commission.
(But fair warning, the Epistle of James and the latter halves of Pauline epistles will never look the same!)
Get a discount on Logos Bible Software
Logos is a very, very powerful tool. And it’s also a pricey one. So I’ve partnered with Logos to offer a sweet discount. (Currently it’s 20% off—which is pretty spectacular.)
Logos is capable of much, much more than just verb highlighting—if you’d like to see a comprehensive take on why I find it valuable for studying the Bible, read my full review!